I can only imagine what the scene was like when the X-Writers hashed out Messiah Complex.
Brubaker - "What should we do? Have some cool action scenes?"
Carey - "Yeah, some fights would be interesting."
Editor - "No, no, I have looked at the fan mail, and it appears that the fans are quite clear about what they want. And that is Cyclops reacting to people's deaths."
Brubaker - "You know, you're right! The fans constantly complained about me not having Cyclops react to Corsair's death! They won't let me forget it!"
So yes, X-Men #204 does, indeed, spend a decent amount of time devoted to Cyclops reacting to the "death" of Cable. Soon, we can marvel at future issues, where Cyclops will react to the deaths of...CAPTAIN AMERICA!!
WHAT'S-HER-NAME FROM THE NEW WARRIORS!!!
It will be huge.
As for X-Men #204 - it is in the style of the epilogues to 90s multi-title crossovers. In other words, it is not good.
This really isn't Mike Carey's fault, as he's just working with what he's given. "Make a good comic story, but keep in mind that nothing can really happen until the crossover starts! So just do a lot of ominous foreshadowing, and I guess you can have everyone react to the previous issues - oh, and if you can reference old continuity, that'd be super!"
In fact, in this issue, artist Mike Choi even treats us to a flashback to the 90s!!
But yeah, Mike Carey is too talented of a writer to make this issue a complete waste. There are some good character moments between Cannonaball and Iceman, Emma Frost and Cyclops, Iceman and Cyclops, Mystique and Gambit, Exodus and Mr. Sinis...oh wait, you can't have good character moments with anyone and Mr. Sinister - my mistake!
Mike Choi's artwork is a bit overwrought, but overall, he does a solid job. And compared to what this book had recently with Humberto Ramos turning in some of his worst work of recent memory, Choi is a delightful alternative.
His take on Iceman's hair was a bit odd, but that's neither here nor there...
There's this scene between Rogue and Gambit where Rogue awakes from her coma, and we get this nice little flashback to past moments between Rogue and Gambit. This is another nod to past continuity, but what I like about it by Carey is that, yeah, all the scenes depicted actually happened, but that is NOT important to the plot. The scenes stand for themselves - that folks may or may not recognize where they are from is really unimportant. That's quality use of continuity right there by Carey.
Also, I get that a lot of readers are kinda dumb, but if Gambit is going to be this outright about his actual loyalties, why not just come right out and SAY it, rather than make it a "mystery" in name only?
The discussion between Iceman and Cyclops as to the effectiveness of Rogue's team (note that, as of right now, her team consists of just Iceman, as Rogue and Cannonaball are incapacitated, Omega Sentinel has been corrupted, Mystique and Lady Mastermind have "turned" on the X-Men, and Sabretooth and Cable are dead). Both characters make good points. It was nicely turned by Carey.
All in all, though, this was just treading water until the crossover begins, and as a result, while it certainly was not a BAD comic book, it was not a good one, either.
Oh, and there was the last part of Endangered Species, if anyone is still paying attention to that one. In this (TWO chapters in one!) story, Beast actually meets Wanda herself!! And we learn that, yes, nothing can be done to save the mutants.
Overall, X-Men #204?
Not Recommended (not even counting Endangered Species, if I counted that, it would just be MORE not recommended).
Good art debut by Choi, though!!